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Bangladesh Cabinet approves changes to war crime laws

Bangladesh's cabinet on Monday approved changes to war crime laws to allow plaintiffs to appeal verdicts delivered by Bangladesh's crimes tribunal. The amendment permits [bdnews24 report] appeals against "inadequate sentence" in war crimes cases. According to Cabinet Secretary Musharraf Hossain, there is currently no provision [ANN report] for plaintiffs or the government to appeal against any sentence handed down by the tribunals, other than an acquittal.

The amendment was in response to six days of protests [JURIST report] that ensued after Abdul Quader Mollah, the leader of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) [party website] party, was sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] for convictions including murder, rape and torture—a decision which the demonstrates assert is too lenient. Mollah's sentence was the latest to be handed down for war crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [GlobalSecurity backgrounder] (BLW). Last week, UN officials expressed concern over a death sentence [JURIST reports] that was handed down last month against Abul Kalam Azad, another former leader of JI, for similar war crimes. Both Azad and Mollah's sentences were handed down by Bangladesh's second International Crimes Tribunal [JURIST news archive], which was established in March 2010 specifically to hear cases involving war crimes during the BLW.

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